Q&A with Bill Poston: Innovation Predictions, Favorite Things & Wishlist

Earlier this year Bill Poston shared his prediction for innovation in 2011. In this Q&A we find out how he fared, his view for 2012, and that he's not afraid to channel his inner Oprah for a list of favorite things.

How did your 2011 prediction hold up? 

The primary prediction that companies would loosen up spending in R&D while constraining growth in headcount and other fixed costs was spot on with what actually happened in most industries. What I got wrong was the response to that squeeze. My assumption was that innovation executives would explore alternative product development models and new approaches to utilizing external expertise. While I am often too optimistic about how fast these things will happen, I also believe that people were expecting things to get back to normal, so they were not as motivated to explore radical solutions.

Thoughts on 2012?

As the economic environment continues in an extended period of uncertainty, I hope that we will see accelerated adoption of innovative R&D models. In 2012, I expect to see even greater spending in R&D and product development in those industries where the underlying business is growing moderately through this period of macro-uncertainty. If headcount growth continues to be constrained, then I predict that we will see more corporate venture investing, the creation of external private expert networks, and the movement of more innovation investment to the developing world. My predictions for 2011 might finally come true a year later than I anticipated.

This week we released Kalypso's top 5 innovation predictions for 2012. What will we see smart companies do in 2012?

  • Corporate Venture Investing – Spend to identify new ideas rather than coming up with them internally.
  • Private Expert Networks – Expand available brainpower in product development with low fixed costs.
  • Reverse Innovation – Develop new products in and for emerging markets at value price points that are attractive in the developed world.
  • Social Product Innovation – Take advantage of the power of social computing platforms to transform the way products are developed.

Since Oprah didn't have her famous Favorite Things this year, can you help fill the void with a few of yours?

What's on your innovation wishlist for 2012?

  • Domestic trusted traveler program
  • Multimedia books and publishing platforms
  • Cell phone battery that lasts all day
  • Increased electric vehicle range and affordability
  • More fractional ownership and community sharing models
  • Truly healthy restaurant and fast food options
  • Comfortable dress socks that stay up